A little while ago I blogged about Sir Tristan and his ill-fated love with a beautiful Irish woman called Iseult. Their story is set in Cornwall – in the far South West of Britain. If you missed the post, or you want a quick re-cap about their doomed love affair then you can find it here.
I love this picture by Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922) - take note of King Mark walking up the staircase.
In the middle of Cornwall sits the parish of Roach. The village is named after a granite outcrop that can be found on the east side of the village. The name Roche comes from the Norman-French word for Rock. So I guess Roche Rock – which I am going to explore today - actually means Rock Rock!
Roche Rock is of great interest to geologists as well as those who seek the land in which Arthurian Legend is set in. For the geologists, Roche Rock is :
“…a fine example of quartz shorl; a fully tourmalinised granite, with black tourmaline crystals.” Wikipedia
(I know...I have no idea what that means either!)
For seekers of the legend, it has connections with Tristan and Iseult.
(Phew! - back to familair terittory!)
It is thought that Roche Rock was the site of Ogrin’s Chaple. Orgin was a hermit who in, The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, shows the two young lovers the error of their ways – adultery is sinful and they must repent...
“Friends,” he cried, “see how Love drives you still to further wretchedness. Will you not do penance at last for your madness?”
“Lord Ogrin,” said Tristan, “hear us. Help us to offer peace to the King, and I will yield him the Queen, and will myself go far away into Brittany or the Lowlands, and if some day the King suffer me, I will return and serve as I should.”
And at the hermit’s feet Iseult said in her turn:
“Nor will I live longer so, for though I will not say one word of penance for my love, which is there and remains forever, yet from now on I will be separate from him.”
Then the hermit wept and praised God and cried: “High King, I praise Thy Name, for that Thou hast let me live so long as to give aid to these!”
There is a later version of the tale – when isn’t there? This time Tristan is at the mercy of King Mark. He has been imprisoned and only by some daring athletic acrobatics - which sees Tristan jumping out of his window and on to some perilous rocks - does he escape with his life.
I have found this wonderful video on YouTube by Alan Lang, which shows your the magesty of Roche Rock. Take a look.
If nothing else Roche Rock is breathtakingly beautiful and who knows – maybe the young lovers did find refuge there.